International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

MESI Symposium in Puerto Rico Postponed Indefinitely

Dear MESI 2020 Prospective Participants,

It is with a very heavy heart that we concluded we have no other choice but to suspend and postpone (indefinitely at the moment) our MESI symposium in Puerto Rico.

We realise this might be a great inconvenient for those of you who have already booked flights, applied for visas and invested money to come to Puerto Rico – especially those who did it with little funding. Many of us on the organizational side are in the same situation, as we also do not receive full funding from our institutions, therefore we have been investing personal time and finances to put together an enriching conference for all and are very disheartened by the circumstances.

Please check with your airline companies, as you might be able to get a refund or a voucher for your flights; many airline companies have already put in place such measures because of coronavirus. You can use this email as proof of cancellation of the symposium that was due to take place in Puerto Rico (a US territory) from 21-23rd of May, 2020.

There are many reasons why we are taking this decision at this stage, and the most obvious are:

- Last night Trump declared a travel ban for those who travel from many countries (represented at MESI) to the United States for 30 days, which will likely be extended beyond that time frame

- The hosting institution in Puerto Rico, Universidad Interamericana, circulated today an internal communication advising it is very likely they will have to close the university temporarily in the upcoming weeks

- Puerto Rico just declared a “state of emergency” because of coronavirus few hours ago.

Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing for how long these measures will be in place, but it is too risky to “wait and see” while many more people make bookings and organize their lives around the event. Also, lessons learned from China are showing how 3 months after the start phase of the virus the country is still on lockdown. Given the MESI symposium is only 2 months away, the only senseful measure at this stage is to postpone, since this pandemic has shown it takes well beyond 2 months to make its full course.

We at MESI and the Universidad Interamericana have every intention of making this conference happen in the future, but it is simply impossible right now to make any projection of when that could be. We will keep you updated any time we have news on new conference dates.

We send you our thoughts and prayers wishing that you, your loved ones and enlarged communities will stay safe and strong during these difficult times. I myself have all my family in Italy, one of the worst affected countries at the moment, so I have witnessed directly from their daily updates how what started like a “glorified flu” (as many treated it, keeping on going out and infecting each other’s) is very much real and destroying people’s lives and livelihoods. Please stay safe and sensitize those around you on taking all necessary precautionary measures; also, if you are in a position of helping others, remember the most vulnerable people in your communities will be more affected by the pandemic, as not being able to work or use health facilities is an additional threat to their lives. In our quest for better inclusion in academia, it is important we also remain active in supporting the socially excluded around us at times of need.


Sara, James and the organizing committee at MESI and Universidad Interamericana